Rehabilitation of Offenders Act Exceptions Order
UNISON Scotland's response to Scottish Executive
Consultation on the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act - Exceptions
UNISON is Scotland's largest trade union representing
over 145,000 members working in the public sector. UNISON Scotland
represents workers in local government in social work services,
home care and residential care workers; workers in the health
service working directly for the NHS and those working for contractors;
staff in the Children's Hearings system; and workers in the voluntary
sector throughout Scotland.
We welcome the opportunity to comment on the
proposed changes to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act - Exceptions
Orders, particularly given that we represent significant groups
of workers that are currently included and workers in the proposals
to be incorporated in the Exceptions Orders.
This paper constitutes UNISON Scotland's response
to the consultation document issued by the Scottish Executive
on the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act - Exceptions Order.
UNISON Scotland welcomes the proposals in the
consultation to strengthen legislation to protect vulnerable adults
and children. The proposals help to clarify existing Exceptions
Orders, and add new categories to reflect changing lifestyles,
and new occupations.
We welcome the plans to use the broad definition
of "child care positions" introduced in the Protection
of Children Bill to include any position whose normal duties include
working in an establishment or organisation which provides education,
care, or services for children. Clearly it essential that we protect
young people from unsuitable adults, and therefore an employer
is entitled to know about all previous convictions, both spent
Whilst recognising the importance of projecting
children and vulnerable adults, UNISON Scotland has slight reservations
in some areas, where individuals may have committed a minor offence
a number of years ago, such as breach of the peace during a student
demonstration, or minor motoring offences. We are concerned that
in these cases, where it is clear that the individual would not
prove a threat to children or vulnerable adults, that they should
not be penalised for such minor indiscretions a considerable number
of years ago.
Response to Questions
- UNISON Scotland agrees that the recent additions to the Exceptions
Order for England and Wales should be extended to Scotland (taking
into account new Scottish legislation).
- We agree that students and those in training should be included
in the Exceptions Order. This should be made explicit in the
definition of "work in care and health services" to
clarify the position of students on placements.
UNISON Scotland very much welcomes the proposals
to include employees of contractors in the health service within
the Exceptions Order. The highest standards should apply in
all public services, and where services are contracted out to
the private sector the contractor must be required to observe
the same high standards as those in the public sector.
- We agree with the proposals to add new categories to the Exceptions
Order. We believe that it is right that those involved in the
children's hearing system are included given the sensitive nature
of the work they carry out. It is helpful to clarify that all
social workers are included in the Exceptions, not just those
who work with children or vulnerable adults. However, as we
noted above, we are concerned that social workers are not denied
employment because of minor offences committed whilst they themselves
were very young.
We also believe that it is right that counsellors
and psychotherapists are added to the Exceptions as they too
do sensitive work with vulnerable and young persons. Again we
would hope that minor "non-threatening" offences committed
considerable time ago do not penalise individuals.
- We recognise the nature of work carried out by taxi drivers,
for example, ferrying children to school, transporting children
and adults to and from hospital appointments, and in offering
a taxi service to the public at large where individuals place
a level of trust in the taxi driver. Given this trust placed
upon taxi drivers and the potential power they have over individuals,
we believe that those applying for Passenger Carrying Vehicle
licences should be included in the Exceptions Order.
For Further Information Please Contact:
Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary
14, West Campbell Street,
Glasgow G2 6RX
Tel 0141-332 0006 Fax 0141 342 2835
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